Vitamin D deficiency affects children and newborns too, doctors warn

Vitamin D deficiency puts people at risk of high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.
A medical technician tests to see the level of vitamin D in a person's blood. Even newborns can suffer from a deficiency, say doctors. Getty Images
A medical technician tests to see the level of vitamin D in a person's blood. Even newborns can suffer from a deficiency, say doctors. Getty Images

ABU DHABI // Vitamin D deficiency affects infants and children, not just adults, doctors say.

Said El Banna, a 36-year-old American resident of Dubai, was diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency four years ago.

“I have never thought of testing my two daughters for vitamin D deficiency,” said Mr El Banna, whose daughters are 1 and 5 years old.

“It simply didn’t occur to me. All the milk products they consume are fortified with vitamin D, so I’m hoping that that is sufficient. The doctor didn’t warn me about this.”

Mr El Banna, who takes vitamin D pills for his condition, said should his daughters need a blood test, he would ask for them to be checked for their levels of vitamin D.

Dr Maysoon Kamil Hassan, a consultant in histocytopathology at Burjeel Hospital, said she saw many children who lacked vitamin D. Histocytopathology detects and diagnoses diseases through analysis of cell and tissue samples.

“Because of this heat, sometimes children don’t go out to play,” she said.

“Children are overprotected by their parents. Even when they are playing outdoors, their skin is covered, so they are not exposed to the sun.”

People with vitamin D deficiency are at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

Vitamin D is necessary for bone health, body functions and is a natural anti-inflammatory agent.

Dr Manohar Reddy, an internal medicine specialist at NMC Specialty Hospital, said infants and young children could lack vitamin D because their parents did not have the time to take them to play outdoors.

“I tell parents that vitamin D is not only for you. The entire family can have vitamin D deficiency,” he said, adding that UAE’s hot and humid weather deterred people from venturing outdoors.

Dr Shobha Shetty, an internal medicine specialist at Medeor Medical Centre, said: “When you have adequate vitamin D, you may not require medication to overcome an inflammation. Plus it helps with malignancy. It has anti-cancer properties and helps to delay diabetes.”

Although it was important for children to get vitamin D through exposure to the sun, Dr Lakshmi Chembolli, a dermatologist at Medeor Medical Centre, warned that childhood sunburns increased the long-term risk of getting skin cancer.

She said children could be fortified with vitamin D through their diet. But she noted that children were often fussy about the food they ate.

Dr Chembolli said educating parents about modifying children’s diets was necessary, especially as excessive heat in cooking degrades vitamin D in food.

Published: September 3, 2016 04:00 AM


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